On August, 6, 2015 the Maine Supreme Court’s upheld 65 new laws Governor Paul LePage failed to act on within the 10-day window granted him by the Maine Constitution. It was an unanimous opinion.
Attorney General Janet T. Mills said this in her statement, “The Office of the Attorney General is pleased with the full and complete responses to the Governor's questions elucidated in the unanimous 47 page opinion today. The Opinion of the Justices is on all fours with all the research conducted by our Office and with the Opinion of the Attorney General of July 10, 2015. We are also pleased that the Court ruled expeditiously so as to avoid any further unnecessary debate and confusion. The answers to the Governor's questions are clear, unambiguous and completely consistent with his own past practice and with that of every other Governor in recent memory. Except when the Legislature has adjourned sine die, the Chief Executive has ten days (excluding Sundays) within which to return any bills with his objections. By his failure to do so, he has forfeited the right to veto any of the bills at issue.”
Ironically LePage said, “This was not about winning or losing; it was about doing things right.”
“The court has rightly rejected Gov. Paul LePage’s legal gymnastics. The decision affirms these bills are law. The governor must enforce them,” said Speaker Eves. “The ruling also reaffirms the Constitution, historical precedent, and honors the separation of powers in our Democracy that protects against partisanship and abuse of power. The decision is a victory a huge win for Maine women, families, seniors, and veterans, who will see great benefits from the laws we passed.”
Among the 65 laws are critical measures to expand access to health care for 13,000 Maine women, temporary assistance for asylum seekers and a much needed investment bond to build affordable senior housing.
In its 47-page response, which weighed heavily on history and precedent, the justices wrote:
“Our unanimous Opinion is as follows: A solemn occasion has been, Having considered the filings, the factual background and legislative record, the constitutional context of the language at issue, long-held traditions and practices of Maine Governors and Legislatures, and the analysis and precedents of other jurisdictions, each of us is of the opinion that a temporary legislative adjournment does not prevent the return of the bills with the Governor’s objections to the Legislature. During such a temporary adjournment, the Governor may return the bills and his objections to the officers and agents of the originating House...”
“We understand the hope expressed by the three Republican Members of the House that a method of compromise could be found by which the Chief Executive and the Legislature would have an opportunity to revisit decisions and timeframes that have already passed. The Maine Constitution, and nearly four decades of practice and precedent, do not, however, provide for such a process. We have been asked for our opinions regarding the language of the Maine Constitution, and we have endeavored faithfully to provide those opinions. In so doing, we are acutely aware that our conclusions will render ineffective the Governor’s objections to sixty-five bills—a result that we do not take lightly. Nonetheless, in exercising the authority of the Judicial Branch to respond to an inquiry from the Executive Branch, we are guided by the need for certainty in, and confirmation of, the constitutionally-identified process that has been employed in Maine for so many years.”